Velcro is a trademarked brand of what is commonly referred to as hook and loop tape. Velcro acts as a fastener by using a two-part system of surfaces that bond on contact yet can be easily pried apart with minimal effort.
The effectiveness of Velcro lies in the fact that one side of the tape contains small flexible hooks while the other side contains small closed loops up on which the hook can grab hold. While the connection made between an individual hook and loop is not very strong, the combination of hundreds of interlocking hooks and loops allows Velcro to be a sturdy fastener.
Swiss inventor George de Mestral first came up with the idea for Velcro after hiking in the woods with his dog and noticing that burrs had a nasty tendency to catch hold of both his clothing and his dog’s fur. Upon closer examination George realized that it was the small hooks on the surface of the burrs that were responsible for their unique ability.
George quickly capitalized on this idea and with the help of a French fabric designer created the world's first strip of Velcro made out nylon filaments. Shortly thereafter George started the Velcro Company in the early 1950s and quickly took out patents on his invention around the globe. Today Velcro is important in both the clothing industry and manufacturing industry. In the clothing industry Velcro is used exclusively as a quick fastener on articles of clothing that need to be quickly taken on and off without having to deal with the sometimes tedious process of using buttons, zippers or other more involved fasteners. Many theater costumes use Velcro for this very reason.